Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Contemporary at Studio Harmonic

Studio Harmonic is tucked away on Passage des Taillandiers, a short walk from the Bastille in the 11th arrondissment of Paris. Its front fa├žade is unassuming, but don’t let that fool you – inside, it’s a bustling dance centre, proud of its “8 dance studios, 47 styles of dance, and over 100 instructors.” 

It’s been on my Paris dance bucket-list, as it should be for any dancer abroad, and it delivered so much for the 17 euros I spent there.

Studio Harmonic, 5 passage des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris

I recently went to a Contemporary Dance class at Studio Harmonic taught by veteran dancer Martine Lacroix. There were five other dancers in the class, myself included, and we got started right away with an extensive, flowing, very breath-centred warm-up and we barely stopped moving for the entire 90 minutes.

The flow of the warm-up extended to the rest of the exercises, which built up very smoothly and gradually increased both the physical and mental challenge. The combinations were long and dynamic, which was a great memory test. I generally favor the right side of my body out of habit and I really appreciate it when a dance class really pushes me to adapt quickly when repeating a combination on both the right and left sides. My balance was tested but it improved with each attempt and with the encouragement of the instructor.

Martine Lacroix’s teaching style struck that tricky balance between keeping the pace and flow up, and finding opportunities to breakdown key exercises, using us dancers – myself included – for short demonstrations, and offering feedback. This is not an easy thing to accomplish in an hour and a half, with some dancers who are new to her class and style, but she made it feel very natural. She also challenged us by alternating the music selections for some of the exercises, which forced us to adapt the movements from slow, calm and sustained, to quick, sharp and dynamic.

There was even some improv during the last two run-thrus of the final combination: we had 32 counts to play with the different accents in the music and explore weighted, heavy movement and contrast those with moments of levity and elevation/suspension. She reminded us that there were no wrong movements, to take risks and to just enjoy, which I sure did!


It felt so great – flowing, connected, challenging, physical, creative and joyful – basically everything I love about contemporary dance. It was the best 17 euros I spent this long weekend and I look forward to checking out more of what Studio Harmonic has to offer. 

Studio F, one of 8 studios were the magic happens.
PS. As I was walking out on Passage des Taillandiers, I took a left turn when I should have taken a right and ended up walking past one of the beautiful Repetto Paris shops. Repetto is a famous brand of pointe shoe and they've also created a line of exquisite designer ballet flats, which are pricey to say the least! But it was still fun to check out the gorgeous shoes and dance clothes in the shop before I found the right way back to the metro. Sometimes, a wrong turn can be a fun turn just the same!

Beautiful shop...makes me miss pointe shoes...almost!

For more information about classes and instructors, check out Studio Harmonic's website:

http://www.studioharmonic.fr/

(Don't worry, there's an English version!)

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